Climate of Hypocrisy

The Republican Party proclaims itself as God’s party, yet Republicans are moral hypocrites more often than are Democrats.

Starting in the 1980s, the Republican Party presented itself as the party of morality and "family values." This was sheer propaganda, since Republicans implied that morality and "family values" were their idea, or at least something for which they had more respect than Democrats. Most Democrats, however, were and are moral and believe in "family values." There was a difference, however. The Republican leadership decided that if you did not hate homosexuals, then you were not really a good family guy or gal. So this was the Republican position in the 1980s, and it remains essentially unchanged: Republicans are the moral ones who protect the nation against gays. That is, the Republican Party is the party of sexual morality.

A steady stream of moral hypocrisies has arisen from the Republican Party ever since the 1980s. (For examples of corruption, see elsewhere on this website.) A complete list is impossible. I will tell of some examples that I happen to know about, and I will occasionally update my list, including the insertion of new examples in alphabetical order. Many of the links are to Wikipedia because these links will probably remain active and continue to be updated. Readers are welcome to send their favorite examples to my email.

These images are from Wikimedia Commons and are in public domain.

Bill Bennett was a Secretary of Education under President Reagan and George H. W. Bush's drug czar. He was very vocal in defending Republican morality. One of his numerous publications was The Book of Virtues, in which he argued for fiscal responsibility as an important and largely conservative characteristic. Meanwhile, he shamelessly gambled millions of dollars in Las Vegas, a fact that was revealed and admitted in 2003. More information here.

Larry Craig was a Republican senator from Idaho and, like the others, staunch defender of Republican sexual propriety. He was arrested in 2007 for soliciting sex from a man in a bathroom at the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport who turned out to be an undercover policeman. Craig pleaded guilty to a lesser charge. Shamelessly, after his arrest was publicized, Craig tried unsuccessfully to change his guilty plea, saying that he had slipped his foot into the next bathroom stall because he had a "wide stance." In 2008, the Senate ethics committee accused Larry "Wide Stance" Craig of improper conduct, noting that he had used campaign funds to pay for his legal defense. More information here.

Bill BennettMugshot of Larry Craig

Left: Bill Bennett; Right: Police mugshot of Larry Craig.

Dan Crane was an Illinois Republican congressman. In 1983, Congress censured him for having sex with a 17-year-old congressional page. Shamelessly, he ran for re-election in 1984, and lost. He had been trained as a dentist, and returned to this line of work. More information here.

Mark Foley was a Florida Republican congressman. In 2006, he had to resign because he had apparently sent sexually suggestive messages to young men who had been congressional pages during the preceding decade. Shamelessly, he had served as the chairman of the House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children, which presented legislation against sexual predators and enabled stricter guidelines for tracking them. More information here.

Newt Gingrich was the Republican Speaker of the House from 1995 to 1999. In this capacity, he was the most important voice in promoting the impeachment of President Bill Clinton and the federal government shutdown in 1995. Gingrich married his former high school geometry teacher when he was 19 and she was 26. While this wife was recovering from cancer surgery, Gingrich was having an affair with another woman, and demanded a divorce. He had an affair with yet another woman while he was condemning Bill Clinton's affair, and maried her later. Shamelessly, Gingrich has continued an uninterrupted momentum of writing and speaking about Christian principles. He wrote a book that said that the Founding Fathers intended America to be a Christian nation. He continues to be highly respected by conservative televangelists. The late Jerry Falwell invited him to speak at the 2007 Liberty University graduation, and James Dobson interviewed him approvingly. More information here.

Mark FoleyNewt GingrichHenry Hyde

Left: Mark Foley; Middle: Newt Gingrich; Right: Henry Hyde.

Henry Hyde was a long-time and powerful Illinois Republican congressman. In 1998, it was revealed that he had an extramarital affair when he was married, with a married woman. Shamelessly, he was one of the leaders in the impeachment of President Bill Clinton. He said, "What we are telling you today [is] a reaffirmation of a set of values that are tarnished and dim these days, but it is given to us to restore them so our Founding Fathers would be proud. It's your country-the President is our flag bearer, out in front of our people. The flag is falling, my friends-I ask you to catch the falling flag as we keep our appointment with history." Just as shamelessly, Hyde described his affair as a "youthful indiscretion," even though he was 41 at the time. Even after Hyde admitted his affair, at least one Christian radio network kept playing his anti-Clinton speech. More information here.

Rush Limbaugh remains one of the most notorious voices of the Republican Party. He was paid $33 million in 2007 (and reportedly much more in 2010) for his radio show. He is famous for saying utterly outrageous things that even appall most Republicans. For example, in 2010 he claimed that Americans should not send help to the earthquake victims in Haiti because it would make President Obama look good. In 2007 he sang a song called "Barack the Magic Negro." Although Limbaugh has no official position in the Party, when party chairman Michael Steele criticized his "incendiary" comments, it was Steele who apologized. Limbaugh was particularly strong in his condemnation of drug abuse. Shamelessly, he was addicted to oxycontin, a fact that was secret until 2003 when he tried to bring a load of the drug with him through an airport terminal. More information here.

Mark Sanford is the Republican governor of South Carolina. In 2009, he claimed to take a hiking trip on the Appalachian Trail, and broke contact with his staff, thus making himself unavailable in the event of emergency. Most people consider this to be dereliction of responsibility. Someone spotted him at the airport. He was on his way to Argentina for an affair. His trip to Argentina was paid for by the taxpayers. In March 2010, thirty-seven ethics charges were brought against Sanford by the state. Shamelessly, Mark "Appalachian Trail" Sanford continues as governor of South Carolina and to defend the Republican Party as the bastion of moral values. More information here.

                                            Rush LimbaughMark Sanford

Left: Rush Limbaugh; Right: Mark Sanford

Mark Souder was a Republican Congressman from Indiana who announced his resignation in May 2010 when the news got out that he was having an affair with a female aide. Souder had made a public video with the aide, Tracy Jackson, in which both extolled the wonders of abstinence. More information here.

Strom Thurmond was a Republican senator from South Carolina until he died at age 100. He defended the Republican Party as the bastion of moral values, and for a long time he was a strong voice against racial equality and integration. Shamelessly, at the very time he was proclaiming black inferiority, he had a daughter with a black woman in the 1920s. It was also an open secret at the Senate that young women should not be alone in an elevator with Thurmond, who felt free to touch them. More information at this 60 Minutes interview.

David Vitter is a Republican senator from Louisiana, who made a name for himself defending family values and Christian morality. In 2007, it was revealed that he was a client of a major Washington, D.C. prostitution service. Shamelessly, he has not resigned and plans to run for re-election.

                                                Strom ThurmondDavid Vitter

Left: Strom Thurmond; Right: David Vitter

There are, of course, Democratic examples of sexual hypocrisy, but fewer in number than those of Republicans. New York Congressman Eric Massa resigned amidst suggestions of sexual impropriety. He claimed that he had not groped a congressional aide, but merely got in a tickle-fight with him. Of course everyone is also aware of John Edwards, former Democratic Senator and presidential candidate, who had a child out of wedlock with a campaign aide. The former governor of New York, Eliot Spitzer, had frequently patronized prostitutes, even while he was prosecuting prostitution activities; this led to his March 2008 resignation. David Paterson, who replaced Spitzer as governor, also admitted to having had extramarital affairs.

I might just point out that the difference between the affairs of John Edwards and Newt Gingrich is (besides the fact that Gingrich did it twice) is that everyone including Edwards admits that what he did was wrong and that he deserves to be left out of any important role in public life as a result, while Newt Gingrich keeps shamelessly coming back and telling us about the greatness of Christian morals. Governor Eliot Spitzer, unlike Governor Mark Sanford, at least had the integrity to resign, saying that he expected no less of himself than others. To find other examples of Democratic sexual scandal, you have to go back to the 1990s (President Bill Clinton); to the 1980s (Congressman Gerry Studs, who got in trouble at the same time for the same thing as Dan Crane); and the 1970s (the Chappaquiddick scandal of Senator Edward Kennedy).

Most big evangelists openly support the Republican Party, or want it to go even further to the right than it already is. Examples include Pat Robertson and the late Jerry Falwell. Sexual improprieties are frequently found in the right-wing televangelists who support the Republican Party. Back in the 1980s it was Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart, who supported the Moral Majority. More recently it was Ted Haggard, who denounced homosexuals and Democrats together. In 2006 it was revealed that Haggard engaged in homosexual behavior with, and obtained crystal meth from, his masseur. (So now I understand. I had heard of the series of Christian apocalyptic books called Left Behind. It now appears to me that these books were about Ted Haggard's favorite part of his male consort's anatomy.)

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